School Fires, Violence Prompt Balt. Security Aid

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After a wave of arsons and violence that disrupted several Baltimore middle and high schools, the city school board voted last night to spend $1.5 million for more supervision in its most troubled schools and asked for community help in solving the problems, says the Baltimore Sun. The budget will go to hire 37 more hall monitors and 34 more resource officers who help police keep order in the schools. Concentrated in 15 schools the system has designated as “high need,” the extra help can be hired almost immediately in some cases.

The school system will make $200,000 to $300,000 in repairs at those 15 schools, as well as provide new cell phones and walkie-talkies so that staff can better communicate. The system will fix lights in areas where the lighting is so low that it has become a safety issue and make sure that external doors are working properly so that outsiders can’t sneak in and cause problems. At least one board member expressed concern that the administration was proposing to hire school resource officers instead of police officers. “I feel very strongly about that,” said Brian Morris, the board’s vice chair. “I would rather have 25 fully trained officers. I don’t buy into the concept that because you are a police officer you can’t relate to children.” Schools police Lt. Richard Damon said about a dozen students have been arrested in fights and fires at several schools in recent weeks.

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